Finca Santa Rosa is a family-owned coffee farm nestled in the foothills of the rugged north of El Salvador, Central America. For over a hundred years our farm has been growing high-quality coffee, following traditional methods that conserve the native biodiversity. Take a few moments to visit with us, meet our family, and see how we work with nature to bring the best quality coffee to your cup.
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Shade Grown Coffee is a way of growing coffee that involves planting large trees to provide shade to the much smaller coffee trees. The shade protects the coffee trees from harmful long periods of direct sun. Shade also makes the ripening process of the coffee beans take longer, which enhances their flavor. More importantly, the large trees provide a natural habitat for plants and animals, such as orchids and migratory birds. In much of the tropics the natural forest is being destroyed at an alarming rate with tremendous loss of the natural biodiversity. This is especially true in El Salvador where only 6% of the land is still forested - much of it on coffee farms.

Finca Santa Rosa is unusual in that it relies very heavily on mature forest cover that was established over a century ago and has been maintained since. Many other "shade coffee" farms offer only a few large trees here and there - particularly farms at higher altitudes where coffee does not need so much shade. We maintain natural forest trees at a very high density, so dense that in some places very little light penetrates to the forest floor. The result is a great profusion of wild plants and animals. In particular, we are proud of our orchids and butterflies, where we have a much greater diversity than can be found in any neighboring location.

Natural Coffee describes the process by which coffee is processed after it is picked. We dry the coffee on large patios made of terracotta tiles. It takes about 2 weeks. After that, the coffee is shelled to remove the husk and release the beans. An advantage of this process is that that the sweetness of the coffee fruit enhances the flavor of the coffee in the cup. By contrast, most commercial coffee is produced by fermenting the coffee beans in tanks of water to remove the layer of fruit. This process generates a lot of waste water containing coffee pulp that can cause pollution problems.

Pesticides and Artificial Fertilizers are not used on our farm. Firstly, we do not want such chemicals to end up in the coffee we produce. Secondly, our farm is the source of many streams and springs that are used by local people and we want to make sure that they are absolutely free of any contamination. Thirdly, we know that pesticides and artifical fertilizers have a destructive effect of the flora and fauna that we are trying to conserve.

Since we do not plant coffee at high densities, we do not suffer much from pests in any case. However, we do sometimes need to take action, and when we do we can control the problems without pesticides. The coffee weevil is controlled by releasing parasitic wasps that attack it alone. Any coffee beans that contain the weevil ripen weeks before the main crop and can be picked, boiled, and discarded. Very occasionally we see fungal diseases on a coffee plant. We simply cut it off at the stem, and burn the foliage. Although this seems drastic new sprouts soon appear that are uninfected, and after a couple of years the coffee tree is back to normal.

Bourbon Coffee is the original strain of coffee that was grown in South America. Today it is increasingly being replaced by strains that resist high inputs of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and which grow in a uniform way that allows them to be picked by machine. Bourbon coffee is taller (6 to 12 feet) than the modern varieties, and is more erratic and profuse in its growth pattern. It also tends to produce coffee beans in large numbers only once every two years. However, it is the variety that most connoisseurs of coffee seek out. At Finca Santa Rosa over 95% of our coffee trees are Bourbon, and they are many decades old.

Location Finca Santa Rosa lies about 2km north of the town of Ilobasco in the Department of Cabañas in El Salvador. The area where the farm is located is called "Sitio Viejo" ("The Old Site"). In fact, our farm is built on the site where the old town of Ilobasco used to be before it was moved to its present location, over 150 years ago. No trace of the old town remains, and it is astonishing to think that any human settlement could ever have existed beneath the rich, dense, and peaceful tropical forest that exists today.

We welcome visitors. However, we do require that you contact us before any visit.


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